In this paper we study the generalized vertex cover problem (GVC), which is a generalization of various well studied combinatorial optimization problems. GVC is shown to be equivalent to the unconstrained binary quadratic programming problem and also equivalent to some other variations of the general GVC. Some solvable cases are identified and approximation algorithms are suggested for special cases. We also study GVC on bipartite graphs and identify some polynomially solvable cases. We show that GVC on bipartite graphs is equivalent to the bipartite unconstrained 0-1 quadratic programming problem. Integer programming formulations of GVC and related problems are presented and establish half-integrality property on some variables for the corresponding linear programming relaxations. We also discuss special cases of GVC where all feasible solutions are independent sets or vertex covers. These problems are observed to be equivalent to the maximum weight independent set problem or minimum weight vertex cover problem along with some algorithmic results.